Hello everybody, welcome back to EDR with your host – me! This week with Amonkhet finally released I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about what I believe to be the best new general in the set: Samut, Voice of Dissent. This card is nuts. She costs 5 mana, which is pretty high on some other commanders, but having access to green gives her the best ramp in the game.
The reward is definitely worth the cost however – a 3/4 with vigilance, double strike and haste. That alone would have made her playable as one of the best Voltron commanders of all time. But wait, there’s more. She has flash, so even if your opponents kill her she can come back at instant speed to block or otherwise affect the board. She grants your entire team haste, meaning that Eldrazi titan or Avenger of Zendikar and its tokens that just came into play can now start swinging. And finally she can tap to untap another creature. Wow. Get extra mileage out of Mother of Runes or play politics and give an opponent a surprise blocker. All of that and more is what you get when she’s on the battlefield, and that’s not even taking into consideration having constant access to her as your commander. People are right when they mention “keyword soup” but this also glosses over the potential “strategy soup” that you get from Samut as well.
Now, what do I mean by strategy soup? I mean that Samut can do basically anything. She can play Voltron, she can be a generic aggro deck similar to Saskia the Unyielding, you can play tokens, you can abuse untapping, you can do basically anything you want to with her and more than that because of her flexibility. You can combine any of the aforementioned strategies or forge ahead on an entirely unrelated route and make your Samut deck incredibly unique; none of these are invalid. Now normally when we get a Commander that doesn’t specifically push you towards one archetype, they are defined as “good stuff” where the build is just good cards in that generals’ color identity without playing a specific role or giving you a reward. We try to avoid good stuff here, since it tends to lead to generic, “samey” decks that often look like other good stuff commanders in those colors and don’t feel particularly special or interesting. But we’re going to avoid that. How you may ask?
By not building a Samut deck at all!
There are so many strategies to be pulled off and written about for a good Samut deck that narrowing it down to just one feels wrong. She’s the voice of dissent after all and I feel like Samut would dissent against being pigeonholed. Instead for today’s article we’re going to focus on all the strategies you can use and abuse with her at the helm and particular cards that go along with her, from specific archetype staples to general “put this in no matter what” kinds of cards.
Untap, Upkeep, Untap Again
The most unique ability on Samut is her ability to untap other creatures. There are plenty of great utility dorks in the format with tap abilities that Samut allows you to get extra use out of.
Adarkar Valkyrie – Adarkar Valkyrie is a really fantastic card. Board wipes are plentiful in EDH and having the ability to respond by making sure you get left with the best creature after it resolves is both a good answer to the amount of board wipes but also to the players playing them. Many opponents will think twice about wiping if they know the most important threat will just be back again anyway. With Samut, you get to bring back two creatures. This often means your best creature and the best creature of one of your opponents. Sure, you won’t be getting Ulamogs out of it but an opponent’s Sphinx of the Steel Wind is nothing to scoff at either.
Mother of Runes – Mother of Runes is the most obvious target for a Samut untap. Protection is such a powerful ability with so many effects that it’s actually more like 4 different abilities in one. The two most useful are giving a creature “hexproof” vs removal spells and making them unblockable. If you can use Mom to make Samut unblockable to swing for lethal, then untap her and re-tap her in response to removal saving Samut, then you’ve gotten 2 effects for the price of a single W mana. Neither of which would be amazing on their own but thanks to the versatility and sheer power of Mom you’ll gladly take.
Bloom Tender – Extra untaps are always easily used with mana dorks, but Bloom Tender is possibly the best mana dork ever printed. Giving potential access to 3 mana with one tap is an absurdly strong effect and with Samut on the field not only does it have haste it can also net you an extra 2 mana by using the white it generates to Samut’s ability to untap the Tender again, making a total of 5 mana for 1. If that doesn’t help you win the game, I don’t know that you had a chance in the first place.
Selvala, Heart of the Wilds – Selvala was busted the moment she was released. I think we finally found a home for her though where she isn’t the commander. It’s not uncommon to tap for 5 or more mana with a single activation. Now imagine getting an extra use out of it. In a game I played recently, I managed to get Selvala, Rhonas the Indomitable and Samut on the battlefield at the same time, tapping Selvala for a total of 5 mana, using a white from her to tap Samut and untap Selvala to do it again, getting up to 8 mana. I then used that 8 mana plus 2 more to cast an Emrakul, the Promised End from my hand with 3 card types in graveyard. I took control of another player’s turn, Emraul entered, drew me a card off Selvala’s triggered ability, put a +1/+1 counter on each creature I controlled with Cathars’ Crusade which gave Samut enough power to turn on Rhonas. The card I drew happened to be a Thousand-Year Elixir which let me untap Selvala again and tap for 14 more mana. This mana I used to cast several other creatures, all of which triggered the Crusade. I swung lethal at 2 different opponents and the last scooped because of his impending inability to have his own turn. It was one of the sexiest plays I’ve ever made and you too can do it with Selvala in your deck.
Selvala, Explorer Returned – This Selvala explores a more group hug route, giving everyone cards but you get mana and life as well. Doing it twice should net you about 4 mana and 4 life on average, plus 2 cards, which is a very awesome rate. Not the most broken use of the extra untap but the utility provided is still nice.
Thousand-Year Elixir – Signature to decks like Roon of the Hidden Realm, Elixir can give haste to your tappers as well as give extra mileage to them. This card is another backup Samut for when she simply costs too much or she is tapped from untapping something else. Note that because it’s an artifact it is slightly less vulnerable than Samut is.
Illusionist’s Bracers – Yet another card to help you abuse tap abilities. It doesn’t let you untap but it does give you an extra trigger per tap. Of note, unlike Elixir and Samut, because Bracers is an equipment you can move it around to get extra use from multiple tappers in one turn. Sadly this doesn’t work with Selvala or Bloom Tender, but you can hardly blame the card for that. Even without those particular interactions you’ll be hard pressed to be a ‘boot’ that does as much work as this.
Godsire – Well the name says it all. It’s the father of gods. It poops out 8/8s with minimal effort. Feel like flooding the board? Go for it. Just want some good blockers? Hell yes. Good for untap shenanigans as well as token builds.
Seedborn Muse – The greatest untapper, Muse gives you extra taps and untaps, and mana, every single turn. Mom can give unblockable on your turn then defend against removal on the following turns. Use all that extra mana to draw cards off of things like Armistice. Combine with Vedalken Orrery to essentially take infinite turns. Seedborn muse does everything you want and more.
Voltron involves handing your commander as many pointy sticks as it can hold and having them stab your opponents in the face. The three most important tenants of a good voltron general are: haste, self-protection and double strike. Haste allows them to come out swinging, double strike minimizes the number of combat steps necessary to kill an opponent and self-protection means you can spend your mana on things other than re-casting your commander for the 7th time because somebody keeps casting Swords to Plowshares on it. Samut has two of these built-in to her own card and doesn’t take much to get the protection necessary for her, so voltron seems like an awesome approach.
Grafted Exoskeleton – The ultimate in voltron equipment, Exoskeleton essentially says “Your opponents die from 10 commander damage instead of 21.” Combine this with her natural double strike and 3 power, and suddenly your opponents have to block every single combat or they will die in one attack. Savvy opponents will immediately recognize the power of Exoskeleton sitting around, so don’t cast it unless you’re able to swing and kill the opponent most likely to be able to kill Samut or the Exoskeleton next turn. If you can make her unblockable with this attached you should be able to nuke someone out of the blue.
Sword of Light and Shadow – All of the Swords are amazing on voltron leaders because they give some measure of protection, extra damage and powerful effects. Giving Samut the Swords means you also get double the damage triggers, letting you draw more cards, get more discards, gain more life, deal more damage, make more tokens, or recur more creatures. Also your opponents are much closer to dying, which is cool too. I listed SoLS because it grants protection from white and black, the colors most commonly running spot removal. The ability to recur important creatures is also useful if that’s a backup plan or if Voltron itself is your backup plan.
Spectra Ward – Samut’s biggest issue is getting damage through and protecting herself. Spectra Ward has you covered on both of those fronts by giving her protection from all spot removal and making her unblockable except by colorless creatures. The advent of more artifact decks of late does make this a bit worse but it’s still a powerful spell that can help you beat on the unlucky foes without a stray Solemn Simulacrum.
Now obviously creatures are the most obvious card type to pair with Samut since she gives them all haste. And obviously things like Eldrazi Titans and Craterhoof Behemoth are staples for a reason, but let’s delve deeper. How do we get the most out of Samut?
Odric, Master Tactician – If we’re playing enough creatures it should be easy to turn on Odric, and even attacking with a mana dork is worth it since we now control blocking. We can alpha strike opponents who would otherwise be totally fine, or we can set up blocks to create a near one-sided board wipe.
Odric, Lunarch Marshal – What’s better than your whole board having haste? How about vigilance and double strike to boot? This Odric from Shadows immediately came to my mind when Samut was spoiled, as granting even just her two extra keywords each combat is going to be a game changing effect. Note that his ability triggers each combat so it will be hard for your opponents to strike back in revenge short of a boardwipe, and then they’re not attacking anyway.
Rhonas the Indomitable and Oketra the True – Both of these gods are incredibly easy to turn on, and have benefits all their own for doing so. Oketra having double strike means she can hit just as hard as Samut while being able to attack much more safely thanks to indestructible. Rhonas is huge at 5/5, and can’t even be walled out thanks to deathtouch. Giving trample to your creatures is where he really shines however, since he can give Samut the trample she needs along with a boost, or give your huge dudes trample if they lack it already.
Urabrask the Hidden – The only creature to give mass haste to your own board, Urabrask can be used as a backup for when Samut has died too many times. He also keeps your opponents creatures from entering to block, making it easier to kill opponents if you’re leaning aggressively.
Selvala’s Stampede – Man Selvala just keeps getting the best cards. This time she gives you an army in a can as your opponents decide which unknown is scarier – the hand you’ve been sculpting for several turns or the deck which is undoubtedly filled to the brim with terrifying threats. Either answer is acceptable, and it’s not uncommon to get something like a hasty Eldrazi titan out of this one way or another, along with several other cards.
World at War – Extra combats are always powerful in the decks that abuse them, and with a hasty board this extra combat can sometimes act like two since the normal issue with these cards is having to wait a turn for you to have enough creatures that can attack to get the proper value out of extra attacks. World at War is listed as probably just being the best version of the effect since it gives you one more extra combat on the next turn, completely free of charge. See also Aurelia, the Warleader and Waves of Aggression for similarly powerful versions of the effect.
That’s all for this week. I hope these cards I’ve written about have helped you consider new additions to your own Samut deck. Remember, the best version of a deck sometimes isn’t actually the best version, since the best version is the one you like the most. Especially when you consider just how open-ended certain commanders can be. Until next time.